Influential Church Leadership

This is the 2nd of 5 posts on Influential Leadership from a class I was teaching at Trinity Baptist Church.
I have posted other Influential Leadership posts.

In Ephesians 5:22-30, Paul compares that the marriage relationship is a reflection of the relationship between Jesus (husband) and the church (wife).  The church is the bride of Jesus Christ. 

Yet many people talk and act as if the church is not important.  Statements like "I love Jesus but I hate the church" are not merely spoken but also lived out.  The church has adopted phrases like "inactive church member," which reflects the idea of an uncommitted, unloving, cold wife. 

During the two weeks of Leadership as Influence in the Church, we looked at how followers of Jesus pray and practically seek to glorify God and encourage other believers to do the same in their churches.

The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent refers to the blessing of the Inheritance of the Saints.  "The more I comprehend the full scope of the Gospel, the more I value the role that I value the church, for which Christ died (Ephesians. 5:25).  the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow-Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine."  A big part of this role of fellow-Christians is praying for one another.

Ephesians 4 shows us how we can pray for the church.  Our prayers for the church should demonstrate dependence upon God, a supernatural unity, thankfulness for God-given leaders, and ongoing Gospel growth.  It is my prayer that God would grow in each of us a desire to pray for our church family and the pastors, elders, and other leaders.  

During week 1, "Influential Prayer in the Church," we watched part of College Park Church's event "Dare to Hope" - https://cpcresources.net/dare-to-hope-video/.  In this video, members of College Park Church came together to learn about prayers of lament through songs, Bible teaching, and testimonies.

Some other helpful prayer resources are 

an article entitled "5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor's Wellness,"
an article entitled "The Ministry of the Pew" (the idea of "pew" prayer is especially challenging),
a bookmark entitled "How to Love Your Church on Sunday,"
the book How to Walk into Church.

During week 2, "Influential Productivity in the Church," we looked at the why and how of being a productive member of a local.  
This lesson was the week of Trinity's building dedication service.  To begin the class,  I made the statement the church is a building.  We read 1 Peter 2:2 - 12  which says those who come to Jesus are like living stones being built up as a, not a physical building, but rather a  spiritual house.

With this passage in mind, I shared the following explanation of the church.  

The church consists of people who are made in the image of God, saved by the finished work of Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The following video from David Platt - Church Membership - helps us the see the importance of committing to a local church body.  I shared with the class that my reason for showing this video was not only to remind us of the importance of active church membership, but many of them are also active church members.  It also helps share with others, Biblical reasons for church membership.  
Here are two principles from the video:

Membership is not explicitly commanded but it is Biblically implied by church gatherings, church discipline, church leadership, church accountability. 
"What body, what gathering of believers are you committed to being with, spurring on, holding fast to the hope with (Hebrews 10)?  Who are the leaders that your life is in submission to, leaders who are accountable for your spiritual growth?  And if you can't answer those questions the reality is you are living contrary to the pattern of the New Testament."
While there are so many different ways to be productive church members, here are three resources specifically related to the idea of being an active sermon listener: Listen Up by Christopher Ash - One of three books on sermon listening at www.challies.com/resources/becoming-a-better-listener/
Sermon Notebook by Matthias Media - Reviewed at www.kevinhalloran.net/the-sermon-notebook/
8 Tips for Taking Good Sermon Notes by Crossway - www.crossway.org/blog/2017/01/8-tips-for-taking-good-sermon-notes/

Leadership is about so much more than a position.  It is also about influence.  

Hebrews 10:19 - 25 is a call to the church to encourage one another, spur one another on, as we remember the confidence and the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Here are some specific prayers I shared with the class.

Lord God,
We pray for the members of Trinity Baptist Church, every single member.
As we join together as a local body of believers, we pray for the leadership of TBC.  Thank you for giving them to us.  Help them grow as disciples and equip others to grow as disciples.
Help us continue to build relationships with various missionaries and ministries of TBC in the Grand Rapids area and around the world.  We desire to support them with our prayers, finances, and whenever possible with our presence. 
God, we do not want the ministry programs of TBC to become the end goal.  Allow each of these to provide opportunities to build God-glorifying relationships with others in the church and in the community.
As we live in the communities around the meeting place of TBC, help us see the opportunities you give us to share the hope we have in Christ, his life, death and resurrection.
We pray all of this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, who gave himself us for his bride, the church.
One major part of the pastor's role is the teaching and preaching of God's Word.  With this in mind, here are two sets of prayers for the sermon from Praying for Sunday by Mike Fabarez. 

Pray for Sermon Preparation.

  1. Pray that the message your pastor is preparing to preach would be an evident part of his own life.
  2. Pray for the protection of your pastor’s sermon preparation time.
  3. Pray that your pastor will be given grace and illumination to rightly divide God’s word.
  4. Pray that the words your pastor chooses to frame the outline would be effective and powerful tools for the Holy Spirit to employ. 
  5. Pray that your pastor would have insight into the needs of the congregation as he prepares.

Pray for the Response to the Sermon
  1. Pray that all, including yourself, will put the sermon into practice.
  2. Pray that the sermon will not be compartmentalized.
  3. Pray that the application of the sermon would be contagious.
  4. Pray that the sermon itself will be repeatedly delivered.

Shelter-In-Place Notes:

A post like this written during a time of quarantine and shelter-in-place order might seem pointless.  We don't have a ministry in the pew while sitting at home.
We don't have a face-to-face ministry with others in the church building.
Here are a couple of suggestions on how to be an active church member.
  • Learn with your church.  If your church is streaming the service or sharing Bible teaching with you in a different way, actively learn and grow using these recommended resources.  Learn with a pen and paper in hand, or at least nearby, so you can write down things that you need to flesh out in your life and share with others.
  • Share with your church.  Find ways to share with others in your church things that you are learning.  This could be through social media, email, video chats, or a pen and paper letter.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Actually, write and mail a note or card to someone in your church.  These "things" could be deep Biblical truths or nitty-gritty details about how to do during a shelter-in-place order.  
  • Read your second most important book.  Don't forget the second most important book for every Christian -  their church directory.  This book contains email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers.  
  • Pray for church leaders.  Pray for your pastor as he and other church leaders lead the church - a body of believers living in relationship with one another - through phone conversations, zoom meetings, emails, and other "impersonal" means.  I shared the following article with the pastors at Trinity Baptist Church and some other pastor friends -  Pastor, You Were Made for This. 
    • An additional thought related to praying for your pastor.  Instead of sharing the latest post or seminar or article, you read about how to "do church online," write a note or send an email thanking him for what he is doing and letting him know you are praying for him.
  • Help members.  Think about creative ways you can help members of your church.  Think about how you can help the elderly.  Think about how you can help the family with several children.  Think about how you can help the family with one child.  Think about how you can help those who are single.  Think about how you can help and encourage one another. 
  • Continue to give financially.  Find out if your church provides a way to give online or remember to send a check to your church.  There are a lot of financial concerns and challenges during times like this.  Your local church still has expenses during this time.  I am sure the leadership is also looking for ways to help and encourage church members who have financial needs.

If you have other resources, additional comments or questions, please leave them in the comment section.


Influential Personal Leadership

In January I began teaching an Adult Christian education class at Trinity Baptist.
The title of the class was Leadership is Influence.

The big idea of the class is leadership is influence.

There is positional leadership and influential leadership.  EVERY Christian is a worshipper and an influencer.  We need to grow as disciples and make disciples.

God has given his disciples many different disciple-making arenas.  Throughout the class, we looked at five specific areas - self, church, family, work, and community.  I am going to post the key points from each of these areas over the next couple of Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Matt Perman writes "Personal leadership is going in the right direction (in line with God's commands and principles) for the right reasons (out of love for God and others)."  (Getting Unstuck, p. 58)

Prayer is an essential part of personal leadership.  Often we get into prayer ruts.  Our prayer life becomes boring because we are praying the same old things over and over again.  Usually, these boring prayers come from man-centered, earthly prayers from our human desires.  They are not God-glorifying, kingdom-centered prayers based on God's Word.  

In the first class on personal leadership, we looked at Paul's prayer for the Ephesians found in chapter 1.  Paul's prayer focuses on the hope and riches they have in God.  Biblical prayer is filled with hope because it serves as a reminder of how rich God is.  If we are to live a life that glorifies God we must focus on who He is and what He wants to do through us.  

Tim Challies' Productivity Catechism serves as a great reminder of the why's, how's and what's of Christian living.  

Q1.  Ultimately, why did God create you?  (Romans 11:36) 
A1.  God created you to bring glory to Him. 
Q2.  How can you glorify God in your day-to-day life?  (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12; 3:15) 
A2.  I can glorify God in my day-to-day life by doing good works. 
Q3.  What are good works?  (Ephesians 2:10;  1 Timothy 6:18; Titus 3:8; Hebrews 10:24) 
A3.  Good works are deeds done for the glory of God and the good of others. 
Q4.  But you are a sinful person.  Can you actually do good works?  (Philippians 1:6) 
A4.  Yes.  Christians are able to do good work because of the finished work of Jesus. 
Q5.  In what areas of life should you emphasize good works?  (1 Corinthians 10:31) 
A5.  I ought to emphasize good works at all times and in all areas of my life. 
Q6.  What is productivity? 
A6.  Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, time, energy, and enthusiasm for good of others and the glory of God.
We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day.  Personal growth, changing into the image of Jesus, will impact the way we live in communities like the church, family, work, and community.  

Shelter-In-Place Note:

During this time of quarantine, it can be easy to binge-watch movies and do you what you want to do.
Instead of a "What do I want to do?" attitude, why not take a "What do I need to do to grow in my relationship with God?"
Here are some suggestions:

  • extended devotional time.  You might think to yourself "I have kids.  I can't do this."  Here is a suggestion, invite one of your kids to do devotions with you.  Share what you are reading and learning.  Use the time to model what devotions could look like.
  • learn something.  The Master's Seminary Institute is offering two free classes:  Marriage/Family Counseling and Hermeneutics, how to interpret the Bible.  These classes or other online options are great ways to grow in your knowledge of God and His Word.
  • read.  If you are or are not a reader this time provides an opportunity to read.  A book that is very helpful for right now is Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy.
For other Influential Leadership posts, go to https://drodgersjr.blogspot.com/search/label/Influential%20leadership

If you have other resources, additional comments or questions, please leave them in the comment section.